President Obama Should Skip Moscow and the Sochi Olympics | Freedom House

President Obama Should Skip Moscow and the Sochi Olympics

The American Interest

President Obama Should Skip Moscow and the Sochi Olympics And It's Not Just Because of Edward Snowden

Media reports indicate that the White House is rethinking President Obama’s travel to Moscow in early September for a bilateral meeting with Vladimir Putin immediately before Russia hosts the G20 summit in St. Petersburg. Obama indeed should not go to meet with Putin, but the reasons for such a cancelation go well beyond those suggested by White House officials, namely the situation involving NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who is seeking temporary asylum in Russia.

Even if Putin were to extradite Snowden to the United States tomorrow, President Obama should still not go to Moscow. He can send Vice President Biden to represent the United States at the G20. Don’t forget that a little more than a year ago, Putin canceled his visit to the United States at the last minute to attend the G8 meeting hosted by Obama and a bilateral meeting with the American President, supposedly because he had to finalize the composition of the Russian government. Obama even moved the G8 meeting to Camp David, away from the NATO summit in Chicago occurring a day later, so as to avoid any awkwardness for Putin, who was not invited to attend the NATO meeting. Putin’s pullout last year was seen by many as a snub of Obama and a sign of disrespect. This is not a reason Obama should return the favor, but it also should not be forgotten when deciding how to handle presidential travel plans for early September.

 The real reasons President Obama should cancel his plans for Moscow revolve around the domestic situation in Russia, Putin’s positions on a number of key issues such as Syria and missile defense, and his endless demonization of the United States. Since returning to the Russian presidency in May 2012, Putin has launched the worst crackdown against human rights since the collapse of the USSR. The latest examples are the outrageous conviction of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on trumped-up embezzlement charges and the unprecedented posthumous conviction of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky on tax evasion. 

The Convictions of Navalny and Magnitsky

Navalny, 37, is a leading opposition figure whose exposés on government corruption have annoyed Putin and others, most recently the head of Russian Railways, Vladimir Yakunin. Navalny coined the phrase the “party of crooks and thieves” to aptly describe the ruling clique. Recently, Russian officials have opened several spurious investigations into Navalny, designed to publicly discredit him, and his conviction and five-year prison sentence on charges of stealing $500,000 from a timber firm in 2009, a case that was previously closed for lack of evidence, were clearly staged to derail his political career. Navalny is a formal candidate for the Moscow mayoral race in September and has indicated interest in running for president against Putin, whose term expires in 2018, right around the time Navalny’s jail term would end. During the proceedings, Judge Sergey Blinov rejected Navalny’s request to have any defense witnesses testify; in contrast, more than thirty witnesses for the prosecution were allowed to speak in court. 

Navalny’s fate was sealed long ago, as demonstrated by Vladi­mir Markin, a spokesman of the Russian Investigative Committee, which launched the inquiries against Navalny. Markin told the newspaper Izvestia earlier this year: “The suspect is doing his best to draw attention to himself; one could even say he is teasing the authorities. So interest in his past grew, and the process of bringing him out in the open naturally sped up.” In other words, Markin acknowledged that the case is a show trial.

- See more at: http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=1467#sthash.ZK7NE...
President Obama Should Skip Moscow and the Sochi Olympics And It's Not Just Because of Edward Snowden

Media reports indicate that the White House is rethinking President Obama’s travel to Moscow in early September for a bilateral meeting with Vladimir Putin immediately before Russia hosts the G20 summit in St. Petersburg. Obama indeed should not go to meet with Putin, but the reasons for such a cancelation go well beyond those suggested by White House officials, namely the situation involving NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who is seeking temporary asylum in Russia.

Even if Putin were to extradite Snowden to the United States tomorrow, President Obama should still not go to Moscow. He can send Vice President Biden to represent the United States at the G20. Don’t forget that a little more than a year ago, Putin canceled his visit to the United States at the last minute to attend the G8 meeting hosted by Obama and a bilateral meeting with the American President, supposedly because he had to finalize the composition of the Russian government. Obama even moved the G8 meeting to Camp David, away from the NATO summit in Chicago occurring a day later, so as to avoid any awkwardness for Putin, who was not invited to attend the NATO meeting. Putin’s pullout last year was seen by many as a snub of Obama and a sign of disrespect. This is not a reason Obama should return the favor, but it also should not be forgotten when deciding how to handle presidential travel plans for early September.

 The real reasons President Obama should cancel his plans for Moscow revolve around the domestic situation in Russia, Putin’s positions on a number of key issues such as Syria and missile defense, and his endless demonization of the United States. Since returning to the Russian presidency in May 2012, Putin has launched the worst crackdown against human rights since the collapse of the USSR. The latest examples are the outrageous conviction of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on trumped-up embezzlement charges and the unprecedented posthumous conviction of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky on tax evasion. 

The Convictions of Navalny and Magnitsky

Navalny, 37, is a leading opposition figure whose exposés on government corruption have annoyed Putin and others, most recently the head of Russian Railways, Vladimir Yakunin. Navalny coined the phrase the “party of crooks and thieves” to aptly describe the ruling clique. Recently, Russian officials have opened several spurious investigations into Navalny, designed to publicly discredit him, and his conviction and five-year prison sentence on charges of stealing $500,000 from a timber firm in 2009, a case that was previously closed for lack of evidence, were clearly staged to derail his political career. Navalny is a formal candidate for the Moscow mayoral race in September and has indicated interest in running for president against Putin, whose term expires in 2018, right around the time Navalny’s jail term would end. During the proceedings, Judge Sergey Blinov rejected Navalny’s request to have any defense witnesses testify; in contrast, more than thirty witnesses for the prosecution were allowed to speak in court. 

Navalny’s fate was sealed long ago, as demonstrated by Vladi­mir Markin, a spokesman of the Russian Investigative Committee, which launched the inquiries against Navalny. Markin told the newspaper Izvestia earlier this year: “The suspect is doing his best to draw attention to himself; one could even say he is teasing the authorities. So interest in his past grew, and the process of bringing him out in the open naturally sped up.” In other words, Markin acknowledged that the case is a show trial.

- See more at: http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=1467#sthash.ZK7NE...
President Obama Should Skip Moscow and the Sochi Olympics And It's Not Just Because of Edward Snowden

Media reports indicate that the White House is rethinking President Obama’s travel to Moscow in early September for a bilateral meeting with Vladimir Putin immediately before Russia hosts the G20 summit in St. Petersburg. Obama indeed should not go to meet with Putin, but the reasons for such a cancelation go well beyond those suggested by White House officials, namely the situation involving NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who is seeking temporary asylum in Russia.

Even if Putin were to extradite Snowden to the United States tomorrow, President Obama should still not go to Moscow. He can send Vice President Biden to represent the United States at the G20. Don’t forget that a little more than a year ago, Putin canceled his visit to the United States at the last minute to attend the G8 meeting hosted by Obama and a bilateral meeting with the American President, supposedly because he had to finalize the composition of the Russian government. Obama even moved the G8 meeting to Camp David, away from the NATO summit in Chicago occurring a day later, so as to avoid any awkwardness for Putin, who was not invited to attend the NATO meeting. Putin’s pullout last year was seen by many as a snub of Obama and a sign of disrespect. This is not a reason Obama should return the favor, but it also should not be forgotten when deciding how to handle presidential travel plans for early September.

 The real reasons President Obama should cancel his plans for Moscow revolve around the domestic situation in Russia, Putin’s positions on a number of key issues such as Syria and missile defense, and his endless demonization of the United States. Since returning to the Russian presidency in May 2012, Putin has launched the worst crackdown against human rights since the collapse of the USSR. The latest examples are the outrageous conviction of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on trumped-up embezzlement charges and the unprecedented posthumous conviction of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky on tax evasion. 

The Convictions of Navalny and Magnitsky

Navalny, 37, is a leading opposition figure whose exposés on government corruption have annoyed Putin and others, most recently the head of Russian Railways, Vladimir Yakunin. Navalny coined the phrase the “party of crooks and thieves” to aptly describe the ruling clique. Recently, Russian officials have opened several spurious investigations into Navalny, designed to publicly discredit him, and his conviction and five-year prison sentence on charges of stealing $500,000 from a timber firm in 2009, a case that was previously closed for lack of evidence, were clearly staged to derail his political career. Navalny is a formal candidate for the Moscow mayoral race in September and has indicated interest in running for president against Putin, whose term expires in 2018, right around the time Navalny’s jail term would end. During the proceedings, Judge Sergey Blinov rejected Navalny’s request to have any defense witnesses testify; in contrast, more than thirty witnesses for the prosecution were allowed to speak in court. 

Navalny’s fate was sealed long ago, as demonstrated by Vladi­mir Markin, a spokesman of the Russian Investigative Committee, which launched the inquiries against Navalny. Markin told the newspaper Izvestia earlier this year: “The suspect is doing his best to draw attention to himself; one could even say he is teasing the authorities. So interest in his past grew, and the process of bringing him out in the open naturally sped up.” In other words, Markin acknowledged that the case is a show trial.

- See more at: http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=1467#sthash.ZK7NE...

edia reports indicate that the White House is rethinking President Obama’s travel to Moscow in early September for a bilateral meeting with Vladimir Putin immediately before Russia hosts the G20 summit in St. Petersburg. Obama indeed should not go to meet with Putin, but the reasons for such a cancelation go well beyond those suggested by White House officials, namely the situation involving NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who is seeking temporary asylum in Russia.

Even if Putin were to extradite Snowden to the United States tomorrow, President Obama should still not go to Moscow. He can send Vice President Biden to represent the United States at the G20. Don’t forget that a little more than a year ago, Putin canceled his visit to the United States at the last minute to attend the G8 meeting hosted by Obama and a bilateral meeting with the American President, supposedly because he had to finalize the composition of the Russian government. Obama even moved the G8 meeting to Camp David, away from the NATO summit in Chicago occurring a day later, so as to avoid any awkwardness for Putin, who was not invited to attend the NATO meeting. Putin’s pullout last year was seen by many as a snub of Obama and a sign of disrespect. This is not a reason Obama should return the favor, but it also should not be forgotten when deciding how to handle presidential travel plans for early September.

 The real reasons President Obama should cancel his plans for Moscow revolve around the domestic situation in Russia, Putin’s positions on a number of key issues such as Syria and missile defense, and his endless demonization of the United States. Since returning to the Russian presidency in May 2012, Putin has launched the worst crackdown against human rights since the collapse of the USSR. The latest examples are the outrageous conviction of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on trumped-up embezzlement charges and the unprecedented posthumous conviction of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky on tax evasion. 

- See more at: http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=1467#sthash.ZK7NE...

by David J. Kramer
President, Freedom House


Media reports indicate that the White House is rethinking President Obama’s travel to Moscow in early September for a bilateral meeting with Vladimir Putin immediately before Russia hosts the G20 summit in St. Petersburg. Obama indeed should not go to meet with Putin, but the reasons for such a cancelation go well beyond those suggested by White House officials, namely the situation involving NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who is seeking temporary asylum in Russia.

Even if Putin were to extradite Snowden to the United States tomorrow, President Obama should still not go to Moscow. He can send Vice President Biden to represent the United States at the G20. Don’t forget that a little more than a year ago, Putin canceled his visit to the United States at the last minute to attend the G8 meeting hosted by Obama and a bilateral meeting with the American President, supposedly because he had to finalize the composition of the Russian government. Obama even moved the G8 meeting to Camp David, away from the NATO summit in Chicago occurring a day later, so as to avoid any awkwardness for Putin, who was not invited to attend the NATO meeting. Putin’s pullout last year was seen by many as a snub of Obama and a sign of disrespect. This is not a reason Obama should return the favor, but it also should not be forgotten when deciding how to handle presidential travel plans for early September.

The real reasons President Obama should cancel his plans for Moscow revolve around the domestic situation in Russia, Putin’s positions on a number of key issues such as Syria and missile defense, and his endless demonization of the United States. Since returning to the Russian presidency in May 2012, Putin has launched the worst crackdown against human rights since the collapse of the USSR. The latest examples are the outrageous conviction of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on trumped-up embezzlement charges and the unprecedented posthumous conviction of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky on tax evasion.

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